Speaking of energy, think of the energy (negative self-talk, wishing and worrying), money (gimmicks, make-up, skincare, tanning, etc), and time (complaining, examining yourself, over-exercising, researching, etc.) you have spent on vanity. Some of us, more than others, but regardless of ethnicity, race, or sex, we have all spent at least some energy on body image.
As you probably know, I am in the business of bodies. But I like to think that I am in the business of making bodies feel better, not making bodies look better. I have never paid for advertising because feeling good and having fun are not things that need to be sold. Being thin is a concept that needs a pitch, and you have already heard them all.
I’m not saying you should stop brushing your teeth, buying nail polish, or exercising.
But what if you:
drank a glass of lemon water every morning instead of weighing yourself? Same amount of energy and time redirected.
enjoyed a bath bomb in the tub instead of shaving your legs in the shower? Every. Single. Day.
picked up trash on the beach instead of walking on the treadmill?
researched something about history or reproductive health or something that interests you instead of
rewarded yourself for eating something delicious mindfully instead of berating yourself for eating something?
spent five minutes a day learning Spanish on duloingo instead of five minutes a day examining your rolls (which are perfectly healthy, by the way) in the mirror?
started a non-profit organization instead of a diet?
took a power nap instead of taking 20-30 minutes trying on different outfits?
Of course, I still love to dress up occasionally (when I want to), wear make-up because it makes me feel good, and workout because I love my body and I exercise in enjoyable ways. But maybe this will plant the seed to be more aware of the attention and energy we give to ‘perfect body monster.’
The Click is like the click a grenade makes right before it explodes – that thing that turns over inside of you right before you dig deep, explode, and give it your all.
I can think of five instances in my life where I distinctly felt, or still feel, The Click:
I was running the 400-metre dash on Track and Field Day in Grade Sixish. My mom appeared halfway through and cheered for me at the moment I needed it most, giving me that burst to the finish line, and I won. At least I won in my memory, I probably came in second.
I am in a yoga class attempting a challenging arm balance or posture. I am usually sweaty, and by that point, tired, but I close my eyes, take a breath, and get a little higher or hold a little longer than I did the last time. (Please know that this equates to inner strength; The Click is not physically pushing yourself past appropriate.)
I am in a good indoor cycling class and the beat of a great song drops. The music is the key. The instructor can be dancing naked or reading inspiring Brene Brown quotes, but that doesn’t do it, the music does it. The beat drops, I feel The Click, and realize I can go harder for just another minute. I feel my body go anaerobic and I go as hard as I can for as long as I can.
When I taught Zumba Fitness, if I had a big class or a large crowd and, again, the song was awesome, and the beat dropped, I would feel The Click. I would dance bigger and jump higher than even I expected.
I was delivering my baby. I felt like I was done, I wasn’t made to do it, I couldn’t do it. I thought maybe I could just stop and it would sort itself out. (…No.) But my husband and my mom were cheering me on and ‘Alive’ by Sia was playing; the combination gave me The Click and I dug deep for that final push.
You may have picked up that The Click is physical intensity. It is also pure joy. But it is not just a big moment like your first scuba dive or your wedding day. The Click is that turnover in your brain, like the spoon in a grenade, that gives you a physical push. The Click is one of the reasons I love exercise and fitness – it brings something out you did not know what inside of you. The result is insane pride and joy.
Please know that, for me, The Click is balanced with a healthy dose of magazine-reading, Netflix, quiet time, and Yin Yoga. We don’t want to always be stimulated to the brink; it would steal the joy from when The Click really does happen.If you have not found that ‘thing’ that makes you click (and it is rare, it will not necessarily happen every month or week), or if you have never felt it at all, I encourage you to keep looking.
Find The Click, feel the joy, and then go back for more.
“You make motherhood look easy,” an acquaintance I love said to me today.
I was actually sad to hear this.
Motherhood is not easy.
It is the blurriest, fastest, hardest thing I have ever done.
Making it look easy may be a disservice to every other mother out there who knows that it’s not easy. Today, when almost every one of us in North America is on social media every single day, we see the best of everything. We see the best angle, the best editing, the best focus, the best moment, the best shot, and the best curated feed. This is especially true in two areas that are huge in my life right now; fitness/wellness and motherhood.
I occassionally find it super annoying and disheartening to follow people who post professional, edited photos of their smiling newborn babies in adorable outfits every single day. Why doesn’t it feel like that for me? Why is that woman so awake and happy about not being able to exercise for eight weeks? Because she’s not. But nobody likes a whiner. Nobody wants to hear how hard it is and how tired you are.
But making it look easy may be a great service to some.
I did not want to be pregnant.
Not only did I not want to be pregnant, but I was actively taking precautions to not become pregnant. Apparently I am a fertile miracle of science; what can I say? When I found out I was pregnant, I was devastated and cried for weeks.
I honestly had few fears and worries about actually being pregnant and delivering a baby. I know my body well and I just trusted it would do its thing, which it did. My greatest fears were around the next 18 years and beyond – becoming weak, being exhausted, being destroyed, feeling restricted, slowing down, and never being alone.
For my entire pregnancy, I thrived seeing Instagram feeds and TV shows where the mothers lived – where mothers exercised and went on dates and worked and travelled – all the things I was (and still am) afraid I would never do again. It gave me hope that I could still be me and do me.
I didn’t want to hear your terrifying birth story or how you become trapped and never sleep once you have a child. In fact, I think my most hated phrase during my pregnancy was, “Enjoy your sleep now, you won’t sleep again for five years.” Eff you. That’s like telling someone who is going into surgery, “Enjoy your body in one piece, they are going to cut you open and it’s going to hurt terribly and you will never be the same again.” I was most grateful for my easygoing clients and girlfriends who assured me that I would still be me, and that yes, everything was going to be fine.
When I was pregnant, I received a plethora of messages from prospective and pregnant moms telling me I inspired them to workout throughout pregnancy because I did it.
So in motherhood, I want to be real: it is fucking hard. But I also want to help others believe that if I can do it, you can, too. You can still be you and be a good parent. I would argue that being you and making self-care a priority will make you a better parent…and a happier person.
You can still breathe and eat out and practice yoga and travel and workout and shower.
Yes. Shower. Every. Single. Day.
So let’s just portray motherhood the way it really is: most of the time it is adorable and cute and rewarding, and the best thing ever. And let’s be transparent about when it is not; when you leak breast milk, when you have to wear giant net diapers for days, and when you lock the door and cry in the ensuite so no one can hear.
But let’s be most honest about this: You can do it. Because that is what I most need to hear.
What do you think? Do you just want to see the pretty photos? Do you want to see the ugly, poopy photos? Do you want to see that pregnancy and parenting are doable? Do you want to see the realness even when it is unattractive, or would you just scroll on by?
Confession: I am not a parenting, nor pediatric, expert. In fact, I had only held one human baby before my own. All the more reason you should trust me when I tell you that, as a clueless new parent, these are the best items for the first seven weeks. I’m sure everyone has their own opinion and favourite things, but these are my must-haves. O.K., some of them are ‘wants’ and not ‘must-haves,’ but if you are creating a registry, throw this ish up there. Speaking of registries, I stumbled upon Babylist, which was the best thing ever. You can add any item from any store or website. Your gift-giver can purchase them from the site/store you posted, or just claim that they are going to get the item and then purchase it from where ever they want. You can also ask for non-monetary gifts like childcare, help, and meals. Plus, the service is free!
Here is what you put on the registry:
Aden & Anais swaddles: Or Aden & Anus, as my husband calls them. These muslin swaddles are just cute and they happen to be good quality, made of cotton. Once our baby hit six weeks, she began sleeping for 5-7 hours at a time when tightly swaddled. I found the best deal buying them as a four-pack on amazon.ca, but if you can find them at Winners, that is often an even better deal. $35 for four, amazon.ca
Awesome Birth Services Postpartum Herbal Sitz Bath: A friend gave me this tea right after I gave birth. I didn’t understand what it was or why I wanted it until I used it. It is a blend of organic herbs, flowers and Epsom salts to help soothe you and baby. You brew the leaves in a French press or teapot and add the tea to your bath or peri bottle (you will learn what this is at the hospital) or use it to clean around baby’s cord. Awesome Birth Services is a B.C. company and also sells both a prenatal and Postpartum Deluxe Care Kit. Sitz Bath, $26, Awesome Birth Services
SKIP HOP Backseat Mirror: I thought we could get away without this until I was the one driving and could hear Sophie crying and had no idea whether she was fine or, the more likely scenario in my head, being suffocated to death by her blanket/headband. Or the other common scenario, where you are driving in the dark and not sure if you forgot the baby at Carter’s and can’t see in the backseat. Hopefully that’s not just me… Anyways, for some reason, we inspected every single mirror and the Skip Hop brand seemed to have the clearest mirror. I would recommend buying this item from Buy Buy Baby. It is also available on well.ca, but if you sign up for Bed Bath & Beyond/Buy Buy baby coupons, you can wait for one and use a 20% off coupon. $29.99, Buy Buy Baby
Chick Pea Fleece Sleep Sack: Apparently, a lot of babies love those swaddle sacks that are shaped like eggplants without stems. My daughter is not one of them. She sometimes does not enjoy being confined in bags without arms. Fair enough. And regular cloth sleepers are not warm enough at night in the winter. A friend gave us this fleece sleep sack with arms and it has been the best thing ever. It is cute and soft and warm and baby can move his or her arms – we use it every single night. $32.99, Winners.
Diaper Genie: I really thought this thing was a scam, like the Williams & Sonoma countertop sommelier. But actually, you can’t live without it. Well, you can, but don’t. It’s slick. Somehow, I found a 100% off coupon for mine on amazon because it was hospital green and my husband painted it white. I wish I could tell you how it was free, but I can’t. Just be on Facebook all the time, and these things will pop up. $37.97, amazon.ca
Fisher Price Rinse ‘n’ Grow Tub: This one is definitely a want, as any of us, whose mothers remind us that we were bathed in the kitchen sink, will tell you. But it will make your life easier. Put it in the middle of your kitchen island, fill it up to the line with a pot. It has this inner baby net, which hangs above the water, just in case you are terrified of drowning your baby. Again, just me? Seriously though, the net is helpful in the beginning when your baby still has its umbilical stump and cannot be submerged. $30.36, amazon.ca or Chapters/Indigo
Go Macro Bars: I love food. I never understood how people could forget to eat; isn’t that what life is for? But since I have had a baby, there have been days I have realized it is 2 p.m. and I haven’t eaten anything yet. Not ideal. Since you also end up getting out of bed at 11 a.m. and heading back to bed at 9-10 p.m., there tends to be a missed meal in there somewhere. My naturopath recommended these bars; they are as healthy as bars can get and they still taste good. Bars are not an ideal food source, so please don’t adopt them as a lifestyle, but they are better than nothing. $34.68 USD for 11 at Go Macro or Target
Indoor Carrier or Wrap: There are many different carriers and wraps; find a smaller, thinner one. I have the Moby wrap, which takes some getting used to, but is very comfortable once you are wearing it. Limited varieties are available at Nature’s Fare, but I order them buy the box and have them shipped to the U.S. There are also Facebook wrap-swapping groups; if you end up with a wrap your baby doesn’t like, you can swap it with someone else for a different one.
Long-Sleeved, Zippered Onesies: The most versatile onesies/sleepers have legs and long-sleeves. The best ones have zippers or, better yet, inverted zippers, which zip from the bottom. Also look for onesies that have finger tabs on the shoulders; they are so you can take the onesie off over the baby’s head when they have pooped all over their lower half. $16, Old Navy
Pants!: Again, everyone will gift you adorable onesies! Most of them will not have legs. Ask for baby pants. Old Navy has cute, inexpensive baby pants for as little as $5 each. $4-22, Old Navy
Organic Cotton Reusable Breast Pads: Again, I didn’t understand why I would need these. Especially because, for the first few weeks, I didn’t. But when you do need them, you need them. You can certainly use disposable pads, but the reusable ones from Buy Buy Baby are comfortable, soft, and inexpensive. They come in packs of six, which I find to be enough that you can always have a pair in the wash and a couple on hand. $5.99 for six, Buy Buy Baby
Boppy Waterproof Changing Pad Liners: The change table is the nursery’s greatest mystery. How do you assemble it? Does it need sheets? Do you have to change the sheet every time the baby poops on it? Do you have to rinse the poop off before you throw it in the dryer? Exactly. Luckily, my husband saved the day and bought these reusable, waterproof change pads. We get by with a pack of three, but six would be nice if you want to do less laundry. We have two change table sheets that we alternate and then place the changing pad on top and swap it out when she poops aaaaaaall over it. If you are lazy, (no judgement), you can also use doggy pee pads and then just throw them away. If you have time, I would wait for a Buy Buy Baby coupon and buy these there, otherwise, Amazon! $17.78 for three, amazon.ca
Robeez Cozy Ankle Soft-Sole Boots: As a general rule, baby boots and shoes will fall off. These Robeez soft-sole boots are the only ones I have found that are cute, warm and stay put. $29.99, carter’s, Osh Kosh
Thinx Period Underwear: I saved the best secret for last. You may have heard, after you have a baby, you will bleed for up to six weeks (probably less). Once you are out of the delightful mesh diaper, it would be nice to not have to buy giant Hanes panties to accommodate the pad you will still have to wear. Enter period underwear! This is the best thing ever. They are absorbent panties (or boy-shorts, or thongs), which are anti-microbial, leak-resistance, and last all day (or night). They are super comfortable; no garbage, no pads, do it. They are not cheap, but you can keep them and use them when you get your period back, which, unfortunately, you eventually will. Use this link to get $10 off! $24-39/each, shethinx.com
Ebates.ca: If you are going to be shopping online for anything you didn’t receive at your shower, you have to use Ebates! Simply create an account and then click on the plug-in before you shop to receive cash back on purchases at most common online retailers, including amazon, The Body Shop, dyson, expedia, Hudson’s Bay, Indigo, Joe Fresh, lululemon, Old Navy, Sephora, and more. I know it sounds too good to be true, but it’s real! Like almost every other online shopping site, Ebates gets a commission – they simply pass it on to the consumer. You can take your cash back as a cheque, have it deposited to your PayPal account, or given to a charity or family member. There are both Canadian – Ebates.ca – and American – Ebates.com – sites, if you order from the U.S.